Post-WW2 Eritrean emergency issue - Our Passports
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Post-WW2 Eritrean emergency issue


British military administration issued travel document.


Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea. In the past it was home to four separate traditional tribes that were at war with each other. Eventually, according to the legend, the women of each clan decided that peace was needed in order to preserve the people, thus they were united into one, adopting the name Arbate Asmera meaning, in the local Tigrinya language, “The Four (feminine plural) made them unite. Eventually that word Arbate was dropped leaving with Asmera, which was substituted with the Italian version Asmara.


Eritrea was occupied by Italy in 1889 with Asmara becoming the capital of Italian Eritrea. The Italians ceased to colonize this region during WW2 after the defeat to the British in 1941 (this was part of the war called the East African Campaign (World War II) ); were they administrated the former Italian colony close to 11 years. During this period of time the British moved the industries to their other colonies but left the Italian administration of Eritrea in place (on a personal note, my family, from my father side joined the South African army during the war and fought the Italians in 1940-41).


In 1952 under United Nations intervention, the former Italian colony was merged under a federation with Ethiopia, moving the capital from Asmara to Addis Ababa. Eritrea adopted, under Ethiopian rule, the Amharic language and the federation was dropped in 1961 with the region becoming part of the Ethiopian Empire. That was also the year when the Eritrean War of Independence broke out, ending in 1991 with full independence.


Travel document number 6692 was issued at Asmara on August 29th 1946 by the British Military Administration for Eritrea. It was issued as an emergency document for Italian non-commissioned officer from the former Italian African Police (Polizia dell’Africa Italiana, or PAI) named Alessandro Calvetti.


The document was issued by the immigration office – police HQ. It was valid for a period of 1 year from date of issue. Exit visa 1036 was issued with permission granting the holder to transit through Egypt. He boarded the ship S/S Portia which took him to the Italian port of Napoli, disembarking on October 6th 1946.


I have also added sample images in addition to those relating to the travel document in this article.



Thank you for reading “Our Passports”.



Neil Kaplan
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